Amid plans to mine lithium in rural Nevada, Indigenous, rural communities at center of the energy transition – by Daniel Rothberg (Northern Nevada Business Weekly – June 22, 2021)

Maxine Redstar’s office on the Fort McDermitt Indian Reservation sits in a valley surrounded by mineral-rich mountain ranges that stretch past the Oregon border, only a few miles to the north.

It’s May, and after a short spurt of precipitation in an otherwise record dry year for Nevada, the valley has turned pastel-green with sagebrush dotting the land. Near the administration building and Redstar’s office, a sign is planted in the ground. It reads: “Keep Your Aboriginal Rights!!”

Redstar, as chairwoman of the Fort McDermitt Paiute Shoshone Tribe, is at the center of a fight over a planned lithium mine in Thacker Pass, “Peehee mu’huh” in Paiute. Part-administrator and part-spokesperson, her phone rings often, and documents are scattered across her desk.

Long before Redstar heard of Thacker Pass, she was following the national news about clean energy. Now the news has come home. The rural communities that encircle Thacker Pass, the site of a major lithium mine, are at the frontlines of an energy transition from climate-warming fuels, coal mining and combustible engines to solar energy, lithium mining and electric vehicles.

The project, approved by federal land managers in January, spans 17,933 acres. Some of that land will be used for exploration. The mine itself — an open pit and processing facilities — would be built on about 5,545 acres of federal public land with an expected lifespan of 41 years.

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